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The Seasonal Incidence of Snakes at a Locality in Northern Belize

Robert W. Henderson and Leo G. Hoevers
Copeia
Vol. 1977, No. 2 (May 25, 1977), pp. 349-355
DOI: 10.2307/1443914
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1443914
Page Count: 7
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Seasonal Incidence of Snakes at a Locality in Northern Belize
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Abstract

The effect of rainfall on Neotropical snake activity in general, in different adaptive zones and on seasonal differences in prey taken by snakes was studied utilizing 177 preserved specimens of 22 species collected in 1967-1974 in the area of Orange Walk Town, Belize. In addition, certain aspects of resource partitioning in a Neotropical snake community were examined. There is an apparent positive correlation between the number of snakes collected and amount of precipitation. The aquatic colubrid Tretanorhinus nigroluteus was, however, taken more often in the dry months than any other species and not at all in the peak of the rainy season. The number of snakes taken in each adaptive zone reaches a peak in September (the wettest month), or an equal number in September and another month, except for leaf litter and aquatic species. Stomach content analysis showed that 37.8% of the wet season and 22% of the dry season stomachs contained food. Anurans were the most common prey items, but they were not taken in the dry season. Snakes that did not prey on anurans were the ones most frequently taken in the dry season. Resource partitioning among the common anuran predators suggests that they are segregated either temporally or spatially. The Orange Walk snakes may or may not be directly rainfall dependent, but the prey (anurans) of many of them are directly rainfall dependent. Snake activity peaks in September and so, probably, does anuran activity. Many species of snakes hatch or are born in the wet season when anuran prey is most abundant and localized. The February-May inactive period is possibly induced by water loss and snakes might secrete themselves in damp, dark microhabitat in order to keep water loss to a minimum.

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